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UMD hockey notebook: Max Plante making international impact with USA Hockey National Team Development Program

Hermantown native and Minnesota Duluth recruit had three goals and two assists for U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team in U17 Four Nations Tournament championship.

Hermantown boys hockey faces Grand Rapids at the IRA Civic Center.
Max Plante (26) celebrates after scoring the game winning goal in overtime against Grand Rapids on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022, at IRA Civic Center in Grand Rapids.
Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune

DULUTH — Hermantown native and Minnesota Duluth recruit Max Plante has made a strong impression on the international stage during his first season with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program.

That was especially true on Saturday when Plante scored twice to lead the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team to the U17 Four Nations Tournament championship via a 4-2 victory over host Switzerland.

Plante finished with three goals and two assists in games last week against Switzerland, Slovakia and Sweden. He gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead in the first period on Saturday and clinched the title with an empty-netter.

The former Hawk has five goals and 19 assists in 27 games this year with the USNTDP U17 squad, including three goals and 12 assists between this week's Four Nations tournament and the Under-17 Challenge in British Columbia, Canada, last month.


Richards gets NHL deal

Justin Richards (19) of Minnesota Duluth fist bumps a teammate after scoring his second goal against St. Cloud during Saturday's game at Amsoil Arena in Duluth, Minnesota (Clint Austin /caustin@duluthnews.com)

Former Bulldogs center Justin Richards is a step closer to a return to the NHL after signing a one-year, two-way contract on Monday with the Columbus Blue Jackets for the 2022-23 season. Richards was previously on an American Hockey League contract for the 2022-23 season with the Blue Jackets’ top minor league affiliate, the Cleveland Monsters.

Richards signed with the New York Rangers in 2020 as an undrafted free agent after three seasons with the Bulldogs, helping the program win back-to-back national championships as a freshman and sophomore in 2018 and 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic derailed a shot at a third-straight title.

The Seattle Kraken placed Karson Kuhlman on waivers Monday, and he was claimed Tuesday by a Winnipeg Jets franchise that includes former UMD teammates Neal Pionk, Dylan Samberg and Dominic Toninato.

Richards played just one NHL game in two seasons with the Rangers’ organization. That was on May 8, 2021, when he registered an assist. In 87 AHL games with the Hartford Wolf Pack, he posted 10 goals and 15 assists.

After going unsigned as a restricted free agent in the offseason, Richards signed an AHL deal with the Monsters for 2022-23. He has six goals and 11 assists in 23 games so far.

Former Bulldog Culic dies

Former UMD forward Chet Culic died on Dec. 3 at the age of 48. A native of Regina, Saskatchewan, Culic played three seasons for the Bulldogs from 1993-1996, totaling 13 goals and 18 assists in 81 games.

No cause of death was listed in Culic’s obituary . A celebration of his life will take place at 1 p.m. on Dec. 28 at the Turvey Centre in Regina. In lieu of flowers, Culic’s family requests donations be made in his name to the Outdoor Hockey League, Adam Herold Foundation, or the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. Culic is survived by his two children, Zack and Abby.

Co-host of the Bulldog Insider Podcast and college hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune and The Rink Live covering the Minnesota Duluth men's and women's hockey programs.
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